The critically acclaimed third feature from actor John Krasinski, who stars opposite wife Emily Blunt, nearly tripled its budget on opening weekend. That will propel it into a major profit for struggling Paramount and provides an easy route to over $100 million in domestic. Overseas, initial reports have its take at $21 million.
Any way you look at it, this is a hit, but here’s the elements that stand out.
— Its $17 million budget is minuscule by studio standards — especially compared to “Pacific Rim” ($150 million) and “Tomb Raider” ($94 million), both of which will struggle to reach a domestic gross over $60 million. Foreign grosses should get “Tomb Raider” in the black, but the more expensive “Pacific Rim” remains in question.
— It is a non-franchise, original story, similar to recent lower-budget successes like “I Can Only Imagine” and “Game Night.” That makes five of the top 10 releases of 2018 releases unconnected to sequels or franchises; last year at this time, we had three.
— The success of “A Quiet Place” comes with not only strong reviews (not unheard of in the horror genre, but atypical) but also with carefully crafted marketing that accentuated fresh story elements.
— It includes a strong central female figure among its leads, contrary to traditional genre, appealed to a slight majority of female ticket buyers.
“A Quiet Place” parallels the better-than-expected opening for “Blockers,” an R-rated comedy in the spirit of “Bridesmaids.” The $21 million film had the best comedy opening weekend of the year.
With budgets at this level, the need to shape a film for universal appeal becomes less important. For two films like this to open so well in one weekend is great news.
At $50 million, “A Quiet Place” is the second-biggest opener for 2018. Last year, it would have ranked no higher than sixth. So while it deserves the fuss, it isn’t exactly an unprecedented gross for early spring.
All told, this weekend provided the strongest grosses since late February. Coming in at around $164 million, it represents an increase of over a third above the same weekend last year. The fact that it comes via smaller films is all the more impressive.
“Ready Player One” kept its drop to 40 percent, with a 53 percent drop from its four-day initial total. With very strong international included, it is nearing $400 million; more than a half billion looks certain. An expensive film, but one that is scoring above the recent franchise standard.
“Black Panther,” of course, remains the franchise film par excellence. Even with the surge of interest in newer films, it dropped only 27 percent. It should remain track to reach a staggering $700 million domestic total.
Two other new films opened wide to lesser results. The Ted Kennedy/Mary Jo Kopechne retelling “Chappaquiddick” actually did more than anticipated, with $6.2 million on 1,560 screens. The acquisition from last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, with a reported $20 million price tag (that includes marketing commitments), will face a challenge sustaining a run, but its 31 percent Saturday increase and per-theater average give it a shot.
“The Miracle Season,” produced by LD Entertainment, fell short of the top 10 with just over $4 million in 1,707 theaters. However, the inspirational girls volleyball team story got a strong A Cinemascore and a 19 percent Saturday increase; despite a weak start, it might have further appeal.
The Top 10
1. A Quiet Place (Paramount) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 82; Est. budget: $17 million
$50,000,000 in 3,508 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $14,252; Cumulative: $50,000,000
2. Ready Player One (Warner Bros.) Week 2; Last weekend #1
$25,060,000 (-40%) in 4,234 theaters (no change); PTA: $5,919; Cumulative: $96,921,000
3. Blockers (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic: 69; Est. budget: $21 million
$21,439,000 in 3,779 theaters; PTA: $6,345; Cumulative: $21,439,000
4. Black Panther (Disney) Week 8; Last weekend #3
$8,430,000 (-27%) in 2,747 theaters (-241); PTA: $3,069; Cumulative: $665,356,000
5. I Can Only Imagine (Roadside Attractions) Week 4; Last weekend #4
$8,537,000 (-20%) in 2,894 theaters (+246); PTA: $2,888; Cumulative: $69,084,000
6. Acrimony (Lionsgate) Week; Last weekend #2
$8,065,000 (-53%) in 2,066 theaters (no change); PTA: $4,020; Cumulative: $31,350,000
7. Chappaquiddick (Entertainment Studios) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic: 67; Est. budget: (not reported)
$6,200,000 in 1,560 theaters; PTA: $3,974; Cumulative: $6,200,000
8. Sherlock Gnomes (Paramount) Week 3; Last weekend #6
$5,600,000 (-20%) in 2,733 theaters (-929); PTA: $2,049; Cumulative: $33,898,000
9. Pacific Rim: Uprising (Universal) Week 3; Last weekend #5
$4,910,000 (-48%) in 2,627 theaters (-1,081); PTA: $1,869; Cumulative: $54,919,000
10 Isle of Dogs (Fox Searchlight) Week 3; Last weekend #11
$4,600,000 (+56%) in 554 theaters (+389); PTA: $8,303; Cumulative: $12,049,000